ONE of the most important documents you will ever draw up during your lifetime is your will.

ONE of the most important documents you will ever draw up during your lifetime is your will.

It is the one document that has a bearing on all the assets you have accumulated over your lifetime. It which reflects your final wishes and it can give you peace of mind knowing that you have made provision for the financial needs of your loved ones.

Your will should be as straightforward as possible and it will be necessary to get professional advice since it is not advisable to attempt to draw up your own will.

One should be practical about how you want the assets distributed. Where possible, don't try to "rule from the grave", but it is also important to understand the consequences of your will.

Here are some areas that should be taken into consideration when making a will.


This is the person who will settle your estate according to the terms of the will. The most important function for an executor is to look after the best interests of your heirs.

So the chosen person has a huge responsibility and should be carefully selected.

You can appoint your spouse or one of your major children as executor and then they, in turn, will be in a position to choose a reliable professional to help wind up the estate.

The most important aspect of a will relates to minor children who become majors now at 18.

But most parents don't want their children to inherit at this young age sice they are, mostly, still immature and in need of further education.


In the event of both spouses dying at the same time, or where you don't have a spouse but you have children, the solution is to create a testamentary trust, which comes into effect on your death.

In essence, when creating a trust, you appoint trustees who are well known to the family and acquainted with the children. They will shepherd the bequeathed assets until such time as your beneficiaries have reached the age stipulated in your will.

It is your prerogative to specify the age your children will be when they receive the assets from your trust. The most common age is between 25 and 30. Income from the assets held in the trust are used to provide for children's needs until they reach the specified age.


It is also critical to appoint a guardian, a person who will be responsible for your child or children in the event of your death.

The choice of a guardian is crucial and should be discussed with him or her to ensure that he or she is prepared to accept the responsibility.

Should you die without a will, your estate will be what is called "intestate". There are all sorts of complications and delays with an intestate estate, so take the tried and tested route and draw up a will.

l The writer is a director of Pioneer Financial Planning. Visit www.pioneerfinancialplanning@co.za